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Monday, February 18, 2013

Hollywood comes to Oxford

Will local businesses profit?

Michael & Samantha Hawke on the red carpetLots of Oxonians have reported seeing Hollywood movie stars Michael and Samantha Hawke in town in recent days. The celebrity couple known as "Sammich" are said to be in town scouting Oxford as a possible location for Michael Hawke's upcoming film, My Segregation.

According to director Wes Thomas, the film is hoping for a 2014 release date and is tentatively scheduled to begin filming in May.

"It's going to be a period piece set in the '50s," explained Thomas. "Luckily, John Grisham has offered us the use of his home while we look around."

As with most film productions, local businesses, including hotels and storage facilities, will profit from the movie's filming. Oxford Tourism marketing director, Tammy Bradman estimates a big budget film like My Segregation could inject as much as $5 million into the city economy.

Yoknapatawpha County has previously been part of a number of film productions including Leo with Joseph Fiennes, Elisabeth Shue and Sam Shepard, the Coen Brothers film O Brother, Where Art Thou? with George Clooney, Robert Altman's Cookie's Fortune with Glenn Close and Julianne Moore, The People vs. Larry Flynt with Woody Harrelson and Edward Norton, and The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag also with Moore and Penelope Ann Miller.

Eagle-eyed residents have spotted the Hawkes at a number of potential filming locations as well as local eateries. A worker at Holli's Sweet Tooth confirmed that movie star duo stopped by the restaurant and posed for a photograph with the employees.

"They were both super nice and they stayed for a real long time," said Sweet Tooth employee Amy Casey. "Samantha was especially mellow. She told me she was in love with our chocolate ice cream."

The Hawkes will reportedly be in town through the Oxford Film Festival, February 21-24, 2013.

Hawke's contract for My Segregation, a movie based on the diary of a prison guard in Parchman, Mississippi, could make him the highest paid actor in history. His package is said to include a generous percentage of the movie's ticket sales, as well as DVD and action-figure profits, and foreign language rights. And if Hawke agrees to star in the film's two planned sequels, his earnings will multiply.

If Oxford's experience with past films is repeated, local businesses will stand to profit as well.

By Kemper Jones at 3:12 PM

 

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